Britain's industrial sector suffered its biggest slowdown in over two years as output in the manufacturing sector fell sharply, official figures released on Friday (8 April) showed.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), industrial production in the UK fell 0.5% year-on-year in February, compared with a 0.2% gain in the previous month and with analysts' expectations for an unchanged reading. The figure marked the biggest slowdown since July 2013.
The ONS attributed the downturn to a dismal display across the board, which saw declines in two of the four main sectors. Manufacturing, the largest component of production, was the main contributor to the drop, as output fell 1.8% year-on-year, recording its largest decline since July 2013.
On a month-on-month basis, industrial production fell 0.3%, reversing the 0.3% gain posted in January and falling short of analysts' expectations for a 0.1% gain.
Meanwhile, on a monthly basis, manufacturing output fell 1 .1% in February, with production falling in 11 of the 13 manufacturing sub-sectors.
If Britain's economic recovery is to continue, the services sector will have to generate growth following the disappointing figures from the industrial sector but economists warned the outlook was not positive.
"The industrial slump places more of the onus on the services sector to drive growth, but the weakness of the CIPS services PMI in both February and March suggests that all sectors now are struggling," said Samuel Tombs, Chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.